For our first trip to Tasmania we flew with Qantas from Brisbane to Hobart, with a quick layover in Melbourne. When booking the flight to Hobart, I discovered many of the Qantas planes to Hobart were on the boeing 717s. I needed to ensure I didn’t book on the 717s as the cargo hold is too short to hold most wheelchairs on these planes, I needed to book on a 737 as that plane can take my wheelchair with a slightly higher cargo hold. Please click here regarding wheelchair size restrictions on Qantas planes.
I always research the Qantas website for the appropriate flight before I ring up the Qantas booking line. I find it best to give them the flight number and the time to ensure the correct plane is booked. A number of times Qantas agents have booked me on the wrong flight to what I have asked for, so its best to double check your ticket, and ring up straight away if there has been a mistake. Qantas has always corrected the mistake without issue.
When flying to Hobart, I needed to bring my car ramp to get my wheelchair into our rental car as Tasmania had no wheelchair accessible cars available during our visit. Please click here for full review on Hobart car rental.
I contacted Qantas beforehand via email to ensure it was ok to bring my portable ramp along with us. Qantas didn’t have an issue taking my ramp on the plane. They collected my ramp information and added it to my booking so the ramp could be checked in as oversize luggage on the day. There was no extra luggage charge as it was classed as a mobility aid, and we are allowed to carry two mobility aids with Qantas without charge. However we needed to ensure the ramp was in a carry case.
Everything went smoothly at Brisbane Airport for our layover flight to Melbourne. The Qantas Wheelchair Assistance Service at Brisbane airport is always well setup with fabulous staff. On our arrival in Melbourne, my wheelchair was brought up to me once all the passengers had left the plane like normal.
I had never experienced a domestic layover flight before, but all went fairly smoothly. I did learn though because we checked-in in Brisbane the Melbourne Qantas team forgot we were flying to Hobart and didn’t have the information ready to carry the wheelchair when boarding the flight to Hobart. We were told that this often happens when wheelchair assistance is required on layovers. On the way back we decided to recheck-in the wheelchair, which reminded them we were there and needed assistance. This seemed to have worked.
They don’t have any aerobridges at Hobart Airport, so we had to use a ramp (pictured below) which took us out onto the open tarmac when leaving the plane. Usually, my wheelchair is bought up to the plane door where mum carries me to it. I don’t usually use the Qantas aisle wheelchairs as they are not designed to support me. This time my wheelchair wasn’t allowed to be brought to the door for me. I was told they could only bring the Qantas aisle wheelchair up the ramp and no personal wheelchairs are permitted on the ramp. I questioned the reason to why this was, I was informed it was policy.
Mum had to carry me down the very long ramp to the tarmac where my wheelchair sat waiting for me. I wasn’t impressed with their ramp process. To make things worst, as I was put into my wheelchair I discovered I had an extremely flat back tyre. The Qantas ground crew member who delivered my wheelchair to me didn’t seem to understand why a flat tyre was a major issue and asked if I could still drive on it. I explained I couldn’t go anywhere until it was pumped up as it isn’t drive-able being dead flat like it was. It took the Qantas ground crew about 10 minutes to track down a pump and pump it up for me while we waited on the tarmac. I’m not sure why it went flat, It didn’t have a puncture and stayed up on the remainder of our trip. I am guessing the air pressure on the plane might have made it go down. Luckily it was an easy fix with Qantas’s help and we could continue on our Tasmania Adventure.
On our flight home mum had to still carry me all the way up the very long ramp on to the plane again at Hobart airport because of the “no personal wheelchair on ramp rule” Even though we were expecting it this time, we still found this unnecessary as there is a perfectly accessible ramp available I could use in my wheelchair to get to the plane door.
When we arrived in Melbourne, there was a delay in getting my wheelchair off the plane. The flight attendants were all lovely and apologised for the long wait. I was told the luggage crew were very busy, which caused the delay to get my wheelchair off. The luggage crew manager requested they get me an aisle wheelchair to disembark the plane, but a very lovely luggage lady understood our situation and how an aisle wheelchair isn’t an option for us. She was a lifesaver and pushed the ground crew along to get my wheelchair out, she then bought my wheelchair up to me at my seat. If only all people were understanding and helpful like her, it would make life so much easier for us with disabilities.
I am a frequent Qantas flyer, and even though we still ran into a few hiccups during our Hobart flight, all worked out ok in the end. I have flown many times with Qantas and most times things go very smoothly. Hobart Airport was undoubtedly more difficult because of it having no aerobridge to the plane. I believe aerobridges at airports are a much more accessible option for wheelchair users.
I think Qantas are one of the leaders in aviation for customer care towards passengers with disabilities. Nevertheless, I still believe there is room for improvement in areas towards accommodating wheelchair passengers at Hobart airport.
In my opinion I give the Hobart Airport 3 stars for wheelchair accessibility, and 3 stars for Qantas Mobility Assistance Service .
* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*